Baltimore Ravens dilemma with Lamar Jackson

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One of the biggest potential dominoes of the NFL offseason is the contract situation surrounding Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Whether or not the Ravens will manage to come to an agreement on a long-term deal with their franchise quarterback remains to be seen. It’s widely accepted that the Ravens don’t intend on letting him see free agency this offseason.

The Ravens can either sign him to a long-term deal (unlikely) or franchise tag him (more likely). They can offer the exclusive franchise tag (which locks him into a one-year deal and pays him more money). They could also offer the non-exclusive tag (which pays him less money on a one-year deal, but allows teams to negotiate a potential offer sheet with him). The latter route is riskier for Baltimore. A team could sign him to an offer sheet out of their price range, and they’d be letting Lamar Jackson go for only two first-round picks.

The contract stand-off, now over 20 months long, is arguably the biggest storyline of the NFL offseason.

It’s a poor reflection of the Ravens front office, but it’s also a reflection on Lamar Jackson’s refusal to budge from his contract demand. The fact that Jackson, a star NFL QB, is negotiating without an agent surely complicates matters as well.Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore’s leverage is dependent on their usage of the franchise for next two seasons. At $32.4 million this year and a much higher figure next year, it’s not their best course of action though. And using the tag in consecutive seasons surely risks alienating Jackson – beyond any other damage that might already be done.

What could happen?

While Jackson could pull a maneuver similar to Le’Veon Bell (sitting out the season until he secures a long-term deal), it would be largely unprecedented. While he’s only 26 and already has an MVP on his resume, Jackson’s play has fallen off since his 2019 season. Sitting out a year would certainly add to the risk for a player who also missed the last month plus of the 2022-2023 NFL season.

Make no mistake – losing a player like Lamar Jackson would be devastating to the Ravens’ short-term aspirations as a Super Bowl contender.

There’s not a single more dynamic offensive threat in the NFL than Jackson, and the Ravens’ run heavy scheme revolves around his unique skillset as a dual threat quarterback. There’s no doubt his contract situation has hung over the franchise like a dark cloud for the past year. The Ravens (and their fanbase) would certainly appreciate some clarity on the situation.

The Ravens realistically seem to have two options – they could franchise tag him this offseason and hope to negotiate a long-term deal OR tag and trade him.

With two potential suitors off the market as now (following Derek Carr signing with the New Orleans Saints and Geno Smith resigning with the Seattle Seahawks), there’s a limited number of teams that could trade for Jackson. I’ve structured some trades below that could benefit both teams.

Option 1: Lamar Jackson gets traded to the Houston Texans

What does the framework of this deal look like?

The Houston Texans receive QB Lamar Jackson and a 2024 3rd round pick.lamar jackson 2023

The Baltimore Ravens receive CB Derek Stingley Jr., the 2nd overall pick in the 2023 draft, the 12th overall pick in the 2023 draft and a 2024 first rounder.

The Texans get their quarterback of the future, and can immediately build their offense around Jackson, 2022 draft pick Dameon Pierce, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

The Ravens add Stingley to their talented secondary, and now have five first round picks in the next two drafts at their disposal. They could opt for a quarterback this year, or sign a journeyman and address other positions of need like edge rusher or wide receiver.

Option 2: Lamar Jackson gets traded to the Atlanta Falcons

What does the framework of this deal look like?

The Falcons receive QB Lamar Jackson. They can immediately build their offense around Jackson, 2022 draft picks Tyler Allegier and Drake London, and tight end Kyle Pitts. That offense would have the potential to be explosive from Day 1.

The Ravens would receive cornerback A.J. Terrell to form a star-studded secondary with Marlon Humphrey, Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams. They would also add Atlanta’s first and second-round picks this year and next year. Those picks could be used on a quarterback this year (likely CJ Stroud, Will Levis or Anthony Richardson), along with needed assets at wide receiver or pass rusher.

Option 3: Lamar Jackson gets traded to the Carolina Panthers

What does the framework of this deal look like?

The Panthers receive QB Lamar Jackson. They already have the framework of a dominant run offense, even without Christian McCaffrey. They play in a wide open division following the retirement of Tom Brady. Lamar Jackson could form a lethal combination with wide receiver DJ Moore, who has never really had a stud quarterback in Carolina.Carolina Panthers lamar jackson

The Ravens would receive Carolina’s first, second, and third-round picks this year, as well as their first and second-rounders next year. Similarly to the proposed Falcons deal, the Ravens can add assets at wide receiver, pass rusher, cornerback, or quarterback.

Option 4: The Ravens extend Lamar Jackson with a record-breaking deal, 5 years, $260M, with $200M fully guaranteed.

I don’t think the Ravens are headed to a point where Lamar Jackson stays in Baltimore long-term, but this is probably a fair assessment of what it would take. If the Ravens do extend Lamar, look for them to use future draft pick assets to trade for a star wide receiver (and draft one). I’d guess that De’Andre Hopkins could be had for a 2024 2nd round pick. I’d be willing to bet that one of Mike Evans or Chris Godwin could also be available for a similar price.

If they do sign Lamar Jackson long-term, the Ravens draft picks should be utilized on one or two wide receivers, a cornerback, and an edge rusher. Any of the accepted top-4 wide receivers in this draft class would immediately upgrade the Ravens receiving depth chart.

This will be an interesting storyline to follow, and I’m excited to update it as more news is revealed.

Catie Di Stefano has worked in the gambling industry since 2011 for major brands like Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Gaming Innovation Group and Betsson Group. She started in customer support at age 19 and has since worked her way through VIP, CRM and Marketing. Today, Catie is passionate about educating players on consumer rights and the best approaches for legal play in the United States as the Director of Community Marketing at OnlineGamblers.com. Catie was born in Indonesia but grew up in Sweden. Currently, she resides in Spain with her two daughters.

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